Midnight in Paris (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Midnight in Paris</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, October 2013) Woody Allen’s « European capitals » tour continues to please, as romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris goes to the French capital for a bit of nostalgic introspection and historical comedy.  As a Hollywood screenwriter with a fondness for the classics discovers that he can time-travel back to the nineteen-twenties, writer/director Allen turn in a film that appear effortlessly charming and quite a bit wise about the pernicious appeal of excessive nostalgia.  Owen Wilson is his own unique self as the protagonist: Midnight in Paris would have been completely different with another actor, as Wilson’s hang-dog charm and wide-eyes befuddlement makes him a perfect match for the material.  Otherwise, the performances to highlight are those in which a few actors get to play with historical figures; Kathy Bates is riveting as Gertrude Stein, and Corey Stoll is instantly compelling as Ernest Hemingway.  As for the rest of the picture, well, it’s refreshingly mum about the time-travelling rationale, well-photographed (especially during its credit sequence, which shows us much of picturesque Paris in three-and-a-half minutes), generally amiable and maybe even untouchable for the kind of low-key comedy it aims to be.  Compared to Allen’s latest films, Midnight in Paris is even a bit more hopeful and comforting in its resolution. (Well, except for the detective stuck in Versailles.  Poor guy.)

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